philoxenos_of_mabbugWhen Abraham heard the voice and knew that it was of God, he immediately despised everything and went forth to Him, and hearkened unto Him with simplicity.

[…] Look then, O disciple, upon this coming forth, and let thy coming forth be like unto it, and be not backward in following the living voice of Christ, Who hath called thee.

For as in that case it called to Abraham only, so in this He calls every one He pleases by His Gospel, and invites them to go forth after Him.

For in that He said, “Whosoever wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24), He shewed a universal calling to all the children of men.

And instead of choosing one person, Abraham, as He did at that time, He now invites every man to be like unto Abraham.

And again in the case of the holy Apostles, He renewed that call of Abraham; and observe their faith also, that it was like unto the faith of Abraham; for as Abraham heard immediately he was called, so also immediately He called the Apostles, they heard and went forth after Him.

“He saw them casting nets into the sea, and He called them, and straightway they forsook their nets and their father, and went after Him” (Matt. 4:18).

And before they had heard from Him the words, “If a man forsake not his father and mother, and everything that he hath, and cometh after me, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26), they forsook everything and went after Jesus.

For He did not propound for the disciples lengthy doctrine, but only the hearing of the word of faith; and because the faith which was in them was living, immediately it received the living word it became obedient unto life, and they ran thereafter straightway, and delayed not.

Now in this they show themselves to have been disciples before they were called. For the custom of faith which is mingled with simplicity is that it does not receive doctrine (or instruction) by much persuasion.

The sound and healthy eye does not receive the ray which is sent therein by contrivances and cunning inventions. but immediately that it is opened it looks with strength upon the light, because its natural sight is sound.

So also the eye of faith, which is set in the pupil of simplicity, immediately it hears the voice of God, recognises it, and there rises in it the light of His Word.

And joyfully it draws towards Him and receives Him, even as our Lord said in His Gospel, “My sheep hear My voice and come after Me” (John 10:27).

Philoxenus of Mabbug (d. 523): Fourth Ascetic Discourse (slightly adapted).